Sight For All silent on Oscar Wylee charity claims

Australian eye health charity Sight For All has gone silent on its dealings with the optical chain Oscar Wylee, following revelations that several of the retailer’s philanthropic marketing claims had been called into question and refuted.

Sight For All executive officer Ms Judy Hatswell has not responded to Insight’s phone calls or ails regarding the various claims made by Oscar Wylee concerning its ongoing support for Sight For All and World Sight Day.

Clarification was sought in regard to conflicting marketing statements made by Oscar Wylee in support of World Sight Day, including; Oscar Wylee donating 100% of all gross profits earned on the day to not-for-profit charity partner Sight For All; 100% of its profits on World Sight Day to charity; 100% of proceeds on World Sight Day.

Hatswell has been unresponsive on the matter, which is more intriguing given that Oscar Wylee general manager Ms Gracie Yan encouraged Insight “to reach out to our partners at Sight For All so that they may voice their opinion too”.

However, it would appear that Sight For All has subsequently endorsed Oscar Wylee by allowing the charity’s insignia to be used on the retailer’s website.

Oscar Wylee’s ‘I Care For Eyecare’ webpage received a complete overhaul since publication of Insight’s original story. All previous pictorial representations and details of its support for the Rose Cambodia charity have been roved, including images and descriptions of ‘Lim’, an “optometrist” who Oscar Wylee claimed it was paying to help become an eye surgeon.

While now deleted, its website stated: “A man with a vision, Lim is an optometrist who has been working at the Rose clinic ever since he graduated from optometry school. He works for free, conducting 80–100 eye tests a day – even going out with mobile eyecare units to rural parts of Phnom Penh so that nobody in need is forgotten.”

Insight was able to confirm that the man pictured was not ‘Lim’, but rather ophthalmic nurse Mr Khut Seakleng, who was not funded by Oscar Wylee to become an eye surgeon and left the Rose clinic in 2016.

As previously reported, Mr Mike Webber, a retired optometrist and a Trustee of Rose NZ refuted various marketing claims made by Oscar Wylee about its philanthropic support of his charity.

“On no account has [Rose Cambodia affiliate] Rose NZ ever considered Oscar Wylee to be a partner at any stage in our program of assistance to Rose Eye Clinic in Cambodia over the past 15 years,” he said.

“After 2014 Rose NZ received no further input in funds or frames from Oscar Wylee. In fact we had no further contact with them from that time onwards. So Rose Charities NZ and Rose Eye Clinic in Cambodia think it is highly inappropriate to indicate any form of partnership at any time with us.”

The 49-store retail chain often promotes philanthropic ‘partnerships’, and its new-look ‘I Care For Eyecare’ webpage now claims that it has a partnership with Sight For All and World Sight Day.

Its website uses the charity’s logos to substantiate the claims, however, describes companies that support it as “Corporate Sponsors”.

Sight For All lists four categories of ‘supporters’, none of which are ‘partners’. Insight has been unable to clarify the difference and/or the level of financial donation between a ‘partner’ and ‘sponsor’, however, the existence of the Sight For All logo on the Oscar Wylee website would suggest the charity has authorised the retailer’s marketing claims.

Yan has previously claimed that as part of 2017 Word Sight Day, the retail chain donated more than $30,000 and 3,000 pairs of frames to Sight For All. Whether these figures were based on 100% of profits, gross profits or proceeds remains unclear.

No information was supplied about last year’s World Sight Day.

There are other outstanding issues concerning Oscar Wylee’s long-standing philanthropic marketing claims, in particular, if the statement that it donates ‘one pair of frames for every pair purchased’ was a fair and accurate representation.

The one-for-one donation claim dates back many years (until its recent removal following Insight’s investigation).

Sight For All is a signatory to the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Code of Conduct, which aims to promote good practice and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of its members.

The ACFID is the peak body for Australia’s not-for-profit aid and development sector. Hatswell had not responded to Insight’s questions at the time of publication.

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